Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Art Process

Seen from a certain perspective, the generation previous to mine defined Existentialism, and my generation could take that focus and explore it as an art practice. Not just that existential moments existed, but that one could develop their poetry for ourselves.

Art, then, not as a hobby for distraction, and not as a career, but as an ongoing project of creating an image of what it means to be human. And whatever aspect that is the least successful for your last piece, that becomes the focus of your next piece.

So this process, repeated throughout a lifetime, leaves a crumb trail of portraits, and of course the sequence itself is as interesting as any one piece.

The creation of the work requires a certain seriousness of purpose...although I don't mean the type of seriousness that many people think of with art. I mean serious, I mean dedication to the series. Not a flake. And that's different than a dilettante, and where the dilettante and the artist part paths.

The younger someone is when they begin the art process, the deeper it sinks, and the longer it has to mature.

I was speaking with my friend Ethan Place the other evening, and we both knew people who had put off facing their meaning their whole lives, until they retired. And when they finally retired, they didn't know what to do. Sometimes they just die, for no apparent reason.

Children know instinctively what to do, they intuitively create art, and their laughter marks the moments that they perceive--it's all so amazingly natural. But people, one bit at a time, step away from that natural inclination to create, to grow the self. And life, when its distractions recede, becomes empty. There is no vector into the future, there is only the past and the empty room of the present.

There are many lives that are just too hard, and a person who is living through one of them may not have the ability or time to create. But where did gospel come from, if not sung by those who had the hardest lives, least time, and didn't even own themselves? Or the British and Irish tunes, rebirthing in the poor Appalachians? This isn't just a rich man's game.

What is it that causes us to want to shy away from meaning?

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